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Last Updated: Sunday, 5 February 2006, 14:09 GMT
Nuclear industry looks to Finland
As Scotland considers its future energy options, which might include a new nuclear power station, BBC Radio Scotland's Simon Willis visited a nuclear project in Finland for this month's Investigation series.

A private company is building the first nuclear power station in Western Europe for more than a decade.

Construction site
Work is under way on the new nuclear facility

Teollisuuden Voima Oy (TVO) claims the plant will be built, run and decommissioned by private capital with no subsidy from the Finnish Government.

It also claims to have found a solution to the problem of nuclear waste.

Many in the nuclear industry in Scotland are asking themselves if Finland's experience could be repeated in the UK.

When the decision was taken, Finland faced many of the problems Britain faces now.

Demand was rising while supply from ageing, polluting fossil fuel plants was falling.

With Russia as a Cold War neighbour, security of supply had long been an issue. Attempting to hit Kyoto targets for reducing greenhouse gasses, Finland faced an energy gap.

Competitive priced electricity has a market
Martin Landtman

The new reactor is being built alongside two of Finland's four existing reactors at Olkiluoto Island in Western Finland.

TVO is a not-for-profit company, owned by a consortium of industries which use vast amounts of power.

To guarantee price and supply, they build their own nuclear power plants.

TVO claims this guaranteed, long-term market for electricity makes the project economically viable.

Nuclear economics

Martin Landtman, TVO's senior vice president in charge of the project, told BBC Scotland: "TVO is a completely private company and there is no subsidy whatsoever involved in this project.

"No state guarantees, no state subsidy, no state involvement on the ownership side. Competitive priced electricity has a market.

Deep waste store
Finland is examining deep storage of nuclear waste

"So it was really no problem to get international bankers and financing institutions to back up this project."

The economics are questioned by industry opponents, who suspect the fixed-price deal is a loss leader to get the nuclear ball rolling again.

This is denied by TVO and Framatome ANP, the Franco/German consortium which is constructing the plant.

A division of TVO called Posiva Oy is building a nuclear waste store 500m below ground.

The Finnish Government has yet to give final approval, but the entrance tunnel is being constructed with the intention of it being the final store for all Finland's nuclear waste when it opens in 2020.

Local backing

Veli-Matti Ammala of Posiva Oy explained it would withstand the next Ice Age.

He said: "After 30,000 years there can be three kilometres of ice above us.

"And after 100,000 years the climate will be the same as it is now. And this system must withstand this."

The local municipality of Eurajoki actually competed against another town to be chosen as the site for the waste store and power station, because it would bring several hundred jobs and increase local tax revenues.

Listen again to Simon Willis' special report on BBC Radio Scotland's website.

Listen to how the project has developed

Nuclear plant life set to extend
03 Feb 06 |  Scotland
Scientists switch on power probe
16 May 05 |  Scotland
Nuclear waste plans are rejected
10 May 05 |  Cumbria
Ministers consider nuclear option
29 Sep 04 |  Scotland
Scots urged to 'energise' debate
21 May 04 |  Scotland


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